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Archive for the ‘NSA’ Category

According to the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence, President Obama has renewed the NSA’s authority to collect all of the telephone records of all American telephone customers. The “Section 215” program exceeded Congressional authority and was found to be ineffective by two expert panels. At a speech on January 17, 2014, President Obama ordered a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it currently exists. However, according to DNI Clapper, the United States filed an application with the FISC to reauthorize the existing program as previously modified for 90 days, and the FISC issued an order approving the government’s application. The order issued expires on June 20, 2014. EPIC and others have strongly objected to the renewal of the 215 program.

Source: EPIC

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The US National Security Agency has secretly developed encryption technology that billions of internet users rely to protect everything from email to financial transactions, according to media reports citing documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Guardian, The New York Times and journalistic nonprofit ProPublica reported on Thursday that the US National Security Agency has bypassed or altogether cracked much of the digital encryption used by businesses and everyday Web users.

The publications said the NSA and its British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) reported making strides against Secure Sockets Layer technology, which protects millions of websites beginning in “Https,” and virtual private networks.

The reports describe how the NSA invested billions of dollars since 2000 to make nearly everyone’s secrets available for government consumption.

In doing so, the NSA built powerful supercomputers to break encryption codes and partnered with unnamed technology companies to insert “back doors” into their software, the reports said.

Such a practice would give the government access to users’ digital information before it was encrypted and sent over the Internet.

“For the past decade, NSA has led an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” according to a 2010 briefing document about the NSA’s accomplishments meant for GCHQ.

Security experts told the news organisations that such a code-breaking practice would ultimately undermine Internet security and leave everyday Web users vulnerable to hackers.

One document said GCHQ had been trying for years to exploit traffic from popular companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.

GCHQ, they said, developed “new access opportunities” into Google’s computers by 2012 but said the newly released documents didn’t elaborate on how extensive the project was or what kind of data it could access.

Even though the latest document disclosures suggest the NSA is able to compromise many encryption programmes, Snowden himself touted using encryption software when he first surfaced with his media revelations in June.

Source: Al Jazeera

Submitted by Michele Catalano via ‘Writing Out Loud’ blog,

It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning. Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.

Most of it was innocent enough. I had researched pressure cookers. My husband was looking for a backpack. And maybe in another time those two things together would have seemed innocuous, but we are in “these times” now. And in these times, when things like the Boston bombing happen, you spend a lot of time on the internet reading about it and, if you are my exceedingly curious news junkie of a twenty-ear-old son, you click a lot of links when you read the myriad of stories. You might just read a CNN piece about how bomb making instructions are readily available on the internet and you will in all probability, if you are that kid, click the link provided.

Which might not raise any red flags. Because who wasn’t reading those stories? Who wasn’t clicking those links? But my son’s reading habits combined with my search for a pressure cooker and my husband’s search for a backpack set off an alarm of sorts at the joint terrorism task force headquarters.

That’s how I imagine it played out, anyhow. Lots of bells and whistles and a crowd of task force workers huddled around a computer screen looking at our Google history.

This was weeks ago. I don’t know what took them so long to get here. Maybe they were waiting for some other devious Google search to show up but “what the hell do I do with quinoa” and “Is A-Rod suspended yet” didn’t fit into the equation so they just moved in based on those older searches.

I was at work when it happened. My husband called me as soon as it was over, almost laughing about it but I wasn’t joining in the laughter. His call left me shaken and anxious.

What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving.

Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door.

A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.

“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.

Meanwhile, they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.

They searched the backyard. They walked around the garage, as much as one could walk around a garage strewn with yardworking equipment and various junk. They went back in the house and asked more questions.

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

By this point they had realized they were not dealing with terrorists. They asked my husband about his work, his visits to South Korea and China. The tone was conversational.

They never asked to see the computers on which the searches were done. They never opened a drawer or a cabinet. They left two rooms unsearched. I guess we didn’t fit the exact profile they were looking for so they were just going through the motions.

They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I don’t know what happens on the other 1% of visits and I’m not sure I want to know what my neighbors are up to.

45 minutes later, they shook my husband’s hand and left. That’s when he called me and relayed the story. That’s when I felt a sense of creeping dread take over. What else had I looked up? What kind of searches did I do that alone seemed innocent enough but put together could make someone suspicious? Were they judging me because my house was a mess (Oh my god, the joint terrorism task force was in my house and there were dirty dishes in my sink!). Mostly I felt a great sense of anxiety. This is where we are at. Where you have no expectation of privacy. Where trying to learn how to cook some lentils could possibly land you on a watch list. Where you have to watch every little thing you do because someone else is watching every little thing you do.

All I know is if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online.

I’m scared. And not of the right things.

Source: Zero Hedge

The Director of National Intelligence released three declassified “in the interests of transparency” documents this morning that authorized and explained the bulk collection of phone data – one of the secret surveillance programs that Snowden revealed. As Reuters reports, much of what is contained in the documents has already been divulged in public hearings by intelligence officials but the National Security Agency’s “Bulk Collection Program,” carried out under the U.S. Patriot Act, is now in the open. Have no fear though, “Although the programs collect a large amount of information, the vast majority of that information is never reviewed by anyone in the government,” the report said. As Senator Patrick Leahy commented, “what has to be of more concern in a democracy is whether the trust of the American people is beginning to wear thin.”

Via Reuters,

As Congress increasingly scrutinizes U.S. surveillance programs, the government on Wednesday released declassified documents on the mass collection of telephone data in a rare glimpse into the world of intelligence gathering.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence released three declassified documents that authorized and explained the bulk collection of phone data, one of the secret surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The declassification was made in the “interest of increased transparency,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement.

The documents released on Wednesday include 2009 and 2011 reports on the National Security Agency’s “Bulk Collection Program,” carried out under the U.S. Patriot Act.

In addition, they include an April 2013 order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which directed communications company Verizon to hand over data from millions of Americans’ telephone calls and described how that data should be stored and accessed.

“Although the programs collect a large amount of information, the vast majority of that information is never reviewed by anyone in the government, because the information is not responsive to the limited queries that are authorized for intelligence purposes,” the 2009 report said.

“The patience of the American people is beginning to wear thin,” said Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. “What has to be of more concern in a democracy is whether the trust of the American people is beginning to wear thin.”

The intelligence officials said they were open to changing the surveillance programs.

“NSA needs access to telephony and email transactional information in bulk so that it can quickly identify the network of contacts that a targeted number or address is connected to.”

Source: Zero Hedge

In this fitting example of the conditioning to never question authority which pervades popular culture and public schools, Miss Alabama, who holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in communications, has this to say about Big Brother:

Watch the video nd read the full article at Infowars

Originally published at Townhall.com on January 2, 2013.

Neither Congress nor the White House has proved itself capable of reaching a decision on how to begin trimming the $16.5 trillion national debt with which these two institutions have saddled the American taxpayers. They even have been unable to come up with a reasonable measure to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” they themselves constructed months ago. Yet, when it comes to expanding the power of the government to spy on American citizens without warrants, both the House and the Senate last week fairly tripped over themselves in a rush to pass legislation doing just that; with President Obama almost gleefully waiting to sign the bill.

The power to electronically surveill citizens without so much as asking a judge for leave to do so, stems from 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The rapid action by the Congress last Friday was prompted by fear that this extraordinary power would lapse at the end of this month – forcing Uncle Sam to actually justify its surveillance by seeking a warrant in advance of spying on citizens.

The federal government’s abject fear it might actually have to meet the constitutional requirement of having a good reason to eavesdrop on American citizens’ conversations before doing so, prompted a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Congress – who can hardly agree on the time of day right now – to come together and make sure our intelligence agencies were not going to be hamstrung by law or the Bill of Rights.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the fight for surveillance with the standard, post-911 cry that such extraordinary power was absolutely “necessary to protect us from the evil in this world.” His colleagues on both sides of the aisle quickly fell in line, saluted, and passed the measure by a lop-sided vote of 73 to 23. The House had offered similarly little opposition.

The dismissive manner in which the Senate refused seriously to consider a handful of amendments that would have brought a minor degree of accountability to the FISA reauthorization was particularly distressing:

– Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed reducing the FISA Amendment’s sunset clause to two-and-a-half years, rather than the bill’s proposed five years, in order to allow for greater debate on the impact of FISA on privacy. This amendment was defeated 38 to 52.

– Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) proposal requiring the Attorney General to declassify FISA court decisions, which include significant legal interpretations, so Americans could have at least some opportunity to understand the authority on which warrantless wiretaps are executed. This amendment was defeated 37 to 52.

– Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) proposal would have required the Director of National Intelligence to disclose approximately how many communications from American citizens have been subject to wiretapping, including “wholly domestic” communications — an answer he has yet to receive from intelligence officials. This amendment went down 43 to 52.

– Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed what possibly was the most “radical” of the four amendments to FISA. It would apply Fourth Amendment protections to all electronic communications, and barred government at any level from obtaining these communications without a warrant, even if held by a third-party. This amendment was defeated 12 to 79.

The shallow Senate debate and quick dispatch of any constitutionally-based amendments did a disservice to the American people and to the Constitution; which, as Merkley noted, was accomplished “under a falsely created pressure that it needs to be done without any amendments in order to match the bill from the House.” This, he added, is simply “a way of suppressing debate on critical issues here in America.”

There is a faint possibility the Supreme Court may in the coming year take up a challenge to the warrantless FISA surveillance; but the High Court in recent years has shown itself troublingly differential to almost every claim of executive power in the name of “national security.” Some federal courts have gone so far as to deny persons subjected to warrantless surveillance the ability to even bring a lawsuit challenging such power, on the theory they could not definitively prove they were the subjects of secret monitoring – a virtual impossibility given the secretive nature of the government’s actions.

Thus, even though warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens is unconstitutional on its face, the broad reach of FISA coupled with the inherent nature of secret surveillance make it virtually impossible to challenge what we all know to be illegal.

Source: Liberty Guard

William Binney is among a group of N.S.A. whistle-blowers, including Thomas A. Drake, who have each risked everything — their freedom, livelihoods and personal relationships — to warn Americans about the dangers of N.S.A. domestic spying; A top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data. Read more about N.S.A. domestic spying: http://invisibler.com/the-program-interview-with-william-binney/


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